« ForrigeFortsett »
to deny this position; yet we are not of the rest and sanctity of that holy day. prepared to proceed so far as the right The bent and tendency of the present times reverend preacher. We fully believe, is too evidently to a contrary extreme, to an that “ whenever men abandon them. excessive relaxation instead of an excessive selves to impiety, infidelity, and profi strictness in the regard shewn to the Lord's gacy, the fault is not in the situation, duties appropriated to the Lord's day, for
day. I am not now speaking of the religions But the heart:" but we cannot bring these are not now before us, but solely of the ourselves to maintain, that " there is no rest, the repose which it requires. This rest mode of life, no employment or pro- is plainly infringed, whenever the lower fession which may not, if we please, be classes of people continue their ordinary ocmade consistent with a sincere belief in cupations on ihe sabbatlı, and whenever the the gospel.” P. 216. Still less are we higher employ their servants and their cattle disposed to acknowledge, that because
on this day in needless labour. This, howthe sacred writers have incidentally men- ticularly by selecting Sunday as a day for
ever, we see too frequently done, more partioned with praise some centurions, travelling, for taking long journies, whicla “ the profession of arms seems to be might as well be performed at any other studiously placed by them in a favour- time. This is a direct violation of the fourtla able and an honourable light.” P. 218. commandinent, which expressly gives the Defensive war, in the present state of sabbath as a day of rest to our servants and human affairs, is, doubtless, necessary; to our cattle. and yet this, even when holily under
“ This temporary suspension of labour, taken and generously carried on, is an toil
, is most graciously allowed even to the
this refreshment and relief from incessant evil of no trifling magnitude. In the brute creation, by the great Governor of the common contests of vulgar ambition, universe, whose mercy extends over all his the object on one side, at least, is unjust, works. It is the boon of hcaven itself. Ic and the means employed to secure that is a small drop of comfort thrown into their object, are uniformly hostile to the mild cup of misery; and to wrest them from this and pacific spirit of the gospel. The only privilege, this sweetest consolation of dispositions that war tends to generate, their wretched existence, is a degree of inare so directly adverse to the disposition humanity for which there wants a name; enforced by the religion of Christ, that and of which few people, I am persuaded, it he must possess a very uncommon share they could be brought to reflect seriously of virtue and resolution, who can devote upon it, would ever be guilty." himself to the profession of arms, and yet
The case of the demoniacs coines unpreserve his Christian purity untainted. der the Bishop's consideration in this · The ninth lecture forms a commentary lecture. His lordship adopts the scheme upon some of the principal admonitions of real possessions; he attenipts to defend which our Lord gave to the twelve, it with arguments which appear to 16 when he sent them forth to preach the greatly deficient in force, but which it gospel. In this lecture his lordship is not within our province to refute. very ably comments on that celebrated
The three succeeding lectures are and much misunderstood prophecy, to upon the parables contained in the thirthe fulfilment of which the records of teenth chapter of Matthew. The first ecclesiastical history bear but too fatal of these, which forms the eleventh lecture, a testimony; “ I come not to send peace on consists of very just and striking redarth, but a sword.” Some of his lord. marks upon the nature of parables in ship's remarks on this head will correct general, and upon the beauty and force the courtly inconsistencies in the con. of those of our Lord in particular, clusion of the preceding lecture. especially if compared with composi
In the tenth lecture, the bishop dis. tions of this class by learned heathens. courses upon those incidents in the Among other judicious observations, history of Christ, respecting the ob- we meet with the following: servance of the sabbath, which gave oce " The Greek and Roman fables are most casion to his enemies to conspire against of them founded on improbable or imposhis life. The following observations sible circumstances, and are supposed conare deserving of serious regard.
versations between aniinate or inaniniate
beings, not endowed with the power of “ There is no danger chat we should speech; between birds, beasts, reptiles, and carry the observance of our sabbath too far, trees; a circumstance which shocks the or that we should be too scrupulously nice imagination, and, of course, weakeas the in avoiding every the minutest infringement force of the instruction.
"Our Saviour's parables, on the con, their youth, perhaps, they receive religious trary, are all of them images and allusions instruction, they imbibe right principles, taken from nature, and from occurrences and listen to good advice : but no sooner do which are most familiar' to our ob: ervation they go forth, no sooner do they leave those and experience in common life; and the persons and those places from whom they events related are not only such as might received them, than they take the road cither very probably happen, but several of them of business or of pleasure, pursue their inare supposed to be such as actually did; terests, their amusements, or their guilty and this would have the effect of a true indulgencies, with unbounded eagerness, historical narrative, which we all know to and hare neither time nor inclination to Carry much greater weight and authority (cultivate the seeds of religion that have been with it, than the most ingenious fiction. sown in their hearts, and to cradicate the Of the former sort are the rich man and weeds that have been mingled with them. Lazarus, of the good Samaritan, and of the The consequence is, that the weeds prevail, prodigal son. There are others in which and the seeds are choked and lost. Our Saviour seems to allude to some histori “Can there possibly be a more faithful cal facts which happened in those times ; as picture of a large proportion of the Christian that wherein it is said, that a king went into world? Let us look around us, and observe a far country, there to receive a kingdom. how the greater part of those we ineet with
“ This probably refers to the history of are employed. In what is it that their Archelaus, who, after the death of his fa- thoughts are busied, their views, their hopes, ther, Herod the Great, went to Rome to and their fears centered, their attention oce receive from Augustus the confirmation of cupied, their hearts, and souls, and affeehis father's will, by which he had the king- tions, engaged? Is it in searching the scripdom of Judæa left to him.
tures, in meditating on its doctrines, its pre" These circumstances give a decided su cepts, its exhortations, its promises, and its periority to sour Lord's parables over the threats? Is it in conimuning with their Tables of the ancients; and if compare own hearts, in probing them to the very them with those of the Koran, the difference bottom, in looking carefully whether there is still greater. The perables of Mahomct he any way of wickedness in them, in pluckare trifling, uninteresting, tedious, and dull. ing out every noxious weed, and leaving Among oiher things which he has borrowed room for the good seed to grow, and swell, from scripture, one is the parable of Nathan, and expand itself, and bring forth fruit 10 in which he has most ingeniously contrived perfection? Is it in cultivating purity of to destroy all its spirit, force, and beauty; manners, a spirit of charity towards the and has so completely distorted and deformed whole human race, and the most exalted its whole texture and composition, that if sentiments of piety, gratitude, and love, the commentator had not informed you, in towards their Maker and Redeemer? These, very gentle terms, that it is the parable of I fear, are far from being the general and Nathan a little disguised, you would scarce principal occupations of mankind. Too have known it to be the same. Such is the inany of them are, God knows, very differ. difference between a prophet who is really ently employce. They are overwhelmed inspired, and an impostor who pretends 10 with business, they are devoted to amusebe so."
nient, they are immersed in sensuality, they The twelfth lecture is occupied in im- wealth, of power, of glory, of fame. On
are mad with ambition, they are idolaters of portant reflections suggested to the these things all their affections are fixed. right reverend preacher's mind, by the These are the great objects of their pursuit ; parable of the sower. We select with and if any accidental thought of religion pleasure the following impressive pas. happen to cross their way, they instantly sage:
disinise the unbidden, unwelcome guest,
with the answer of Felix to Paul, “ Go thy “ There is a third portion of the seed that way for this time; when we have a confalls among thorns. This wants neither venient season we will send for thee." root nor depth of earth. It grows up, but “ But how then, it is said, are we to conthe misfortune is, that the thorns grow up duct ourselves? If Providence has blessed with it. The fault of the soil is not of bear. us with riches, with honour, with power, ing nothing, but of bearing too much; of with reputation, are we to reject these gifts bearing what it ought not, of exhausting its of our heavenly Father; or ought we not strength and nutrition on vile and worthless rather to accept them with thankfulness, productions, which choke the good seed, and enjoy with gratitude, the advantages and prevent it from coming to perfection. and the comforts which his bounty has be* These are they," says our Saviour in the stowed upon us? Most assuredly we ought. parallel place of St. Luke, “ which, when But then they are to be enjoyed also with they have heard, go fortk, and are choked innocence, with temperance, and with mowith cares, and riches, and pleasures of this deration. They must not be allowed to life, and bring no fruit to perfection." In usurp the first place in our hearts. They
must not be permitted to supplant God in « The next is, why is it suffered to reour affection, or to dispute that pre-eminence main a single moment; and why is not and priority which he claims over every every wicked man immediately punished as propensity of our nature. This and this he deserves ?" only can prevent the good seed from being
With respect to the first of these choked with the cares, the riches, and the pleasures of the present life.”
questions, his lordship considers it as a
most unaccountable error of judgment, This lecture being the last that was and a strange misapplication of talents, delivered in the year 1799, is closed by and waste of labour and time (p. 331), an earnest recommendation of a strict for any one who believes in revelation, observance of the ensuing week, com- to employ himself in making any inmonly called passion week. “ In that quiry; since “ we are told in the very week,” observes his lordship, “ all pub- beginning of the Bible, that he who first lic diversions are, as you well know, brought sin or moral evil into the world, wisely prohibited by public authority; was that great adversary of the human and in conformity to the spirit of such race, the devil
, who first tempted the prohibition, we should, even in our own woman and the man to act in direct families and in our own private amuse- contradiction to the commands of their ments, be temperate, modest, decorous, Maker:” and thus were introduced into and discreet.” P. 323. There are, how- their whole moral frame, all those cor. ever, those, among whom, notwithstand- rupt propensities and disordered pas. ing this loose, inaccurate language, is sions, which they bequeathed as a fatal the bishop of London himself, who are legacy to their descendants. “ This,” of opinion, that not in passion week says the right reverend divine, " is the alone, but at all times, and in all sea- true origin of all moral evil.” Having sons, Christians ought to be temperate, thus cut the gordian knot, he proceeds modest, decorous, and discreet. Had to the second question, which, as he has his lordship then no apprehension, that no hypothesis to support, he discusses in by enforcing with so much solemnity an able and satisfactory manner. the observance of a particular season, it The second volume opens with the might be inferred by some, that at other fourteenth lecture, which is a most interest: times so much caution and watchfulness ing and useful history of Herod and would not be necessary? Are there none Herodias, and of the death of John the who would cheerfully comply with such Baptist. His lordship's observations on a requisition, as a kind of commutation the character of the abandoned Herofor their general irregularities? Is there dias, and her unfortunate daughter Sanot considerable danger, that those who lone, are admirable ; and though we earare thus exhorted to make a pause in nestly recommend the perusal of the the fashionable career of dissipation and whole lecture, we cannot withhold the folly, when the season allotted to that following specimen : purpose is over, will plunge with re
“ We here see a fatal proof of the extreme newed alacrity into the vortex, under barbarities to which that most diabolical the persuasion, that having by this pe- sentiment of revenge will drive the natural nance made their peace with heaven, they tenderness' even of a female mind; what a are left at full liberty to indulge them- close connection there is between crimes of selves to the utmost, till the season of apparently a very different complexion, and penitence and retirement comes round how frequently the uncontrolled indulgence again?
of what are called the softer affections, lead The thirteenth lecture relates principally the malignant passions. The voluptuary
ultimately to the most violent excesses of to the parable of the tares.
generally piques himself on his benevolence, " This parable well deserves our most his humanity, and gentleness of disposition. serious consideration, as it gives an answer His claim, evon to these virtues, is, at the to two questions of great curiosity and great best, very problematical; because, in his purimportance, which have exercised the in- suit of 'pleasure, he makes no scruple of genuity, and agitated the minds of thinking sacrificing the peace, the comfort, the hapmen, from the earliest times to the present, piness, of those for whom he pretends the and, perhaps, were never, at any period of tenderest affection, to the gratification of his the world, more interesting than at this very own selfish desires. But however he may hour.
humour, when he meets “ The first of these questions is, how with no resistance, the moment he is thwart. tame moral evil into the world?
ed and opposed in his flagitious purpose, he
has no hesitation in going any lengths to ment of tribute money, and the inquiry gain his point, and will fight his way to the of the lawyer concerning the great coma object he has in view, through the heart of mandment of the law. This being the the very best friend he has in the world. last lecture delivered in the year 1800, The same thing we see in a still more striking point of view, in the conduct of Hero- the bishop concludes with some very dias. She was at first only a bold unprin serious admonitions to his audience, re. cipled libertine, and might perhaps be ad- commending self-denial, and the duty mired and celebrated, as many others of that of considering the wants and distresses description have been, for her good temper, of the poor. These admonitions were her sensibility, her generosity to the poor; delivered in " a season of great scarcity and with this character she might have gone and extreme dearness of all the necesout of the world, had no such person as saries of life;" but the following imJohn arisen, to reprove her and her husband for their profligacy, and to endanger the portant reflection will be deserving of continuance of her guilty commerce. But attention at all times, even in the midst no sooner does he rebuke them as they de- of abundance.' served, than Herodias shewed that she had ~ When we consider that the expence of other passions to induige besides those a single evening's amusement, or a single which had hitherto disgraced her character; convivial meeting, would give support and and that when she found it necessary to her comfort perhaps to iwenty wretched famipleasures, she could be as cruel as she had lies, pining in hunger, in sickness, and in been licentious; could contrive and accom
sorrow, can we so far divest ourselves of all plish the destruction of a great and good the tender feelings of our nature (not to man, could feast her eyes with the sight of mention any higher principle), can we be so his mangled head in a charger, could even intolerably selfish, so wedded to pleasure, so make her own poor child the instrument of devoted to our own gratification, as to let her vengeance, and, as I am inclined to
the lowest of our brethren perish, while we think, a reluctant accomplice in a most atro are solacing ourselves with every earthly decious murder,"
light? No one that gives himself leave to The subject of the fifteenth lecture is reflect for a moment, can think this io be the transfiguration ; an occurrence upon right, can maintain it to be consistent with which the learned bishop published his his duty either to God or man. And, even opinion several years ago, without his in respect to the very object we so eagerly name. The same hypothesis is adopted point even of, pleasure, I mean, and self
pursue, and are so 'anxious to obtain, in in the present work.
gratification, I'doubt much whether the The sixteenib lecture is employed chiefly giddiest votary of amusement can receive half upon the denunciation in the eighteenth the real satisfaction from the gayest scenes chapter of Matthew, against those who of dissipation he is immersed in, that he shall cause their brother to offend, i.e. would experience (if he would but try) from to apostatize from the fruits of the goso rescuing a fellow creature from destruction, pel. This subject the bishop considers and lighting up an afflicted and fallen counmuch at large, and states the guilt of
tenance with joy: drawing others to infidelity, whether by indulgences, and give the price of what they
Let us then abridge ourselves of a few means of persecution by open and sys- would cost us in those who have none. By tematic attacks, by bold and impious this laudable species of æconomy, we shall libels, by ridicule, by the wicked lives of at once improve ourselves in a hábit of selfnominal Christians, or by licentious pub- denial and self-government; we shall delications. The lecture concludes with monstrate the sincerity of our love to our the beautiful parable of the relentless fellow creatures, by giving up 'something servant; from which the preacher re- that is dear to us for their sake, by sacrificing commends to his hearers the indispen- all
, we shall approve ourselves as faithful sable duty of the forgiveness of injuries. servants in the sight of our Almighty Sore
In the seventeenib lecture, his lordship reign; we shall give some proof of our gradetails at length the incident of the titude to our heavenly Benefactor and Friend, young ruler, and the conversation which who has given us richly all things to enjoy'; passed between our Lord and his follow, and who, in return for that bounty, expects ers, in consequence of it.
and commands us to be rich in good works, The principal topics in the eighteenth to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to lecture, are the parable of the marriagę widow in their affliction, and to keep our
comfort the sick, to visit the fatherless and feast, recorded in the twenty-second selves unsported from the world, onpolluted chapter of Matthew; the insidious ques. by its vices, and unsubdued by its pretion of the pharisee, respecting the pay. dominant vanities and follies.”
The nineteenth and twentieth lectures can. British judge, in addition to his natural sen, pot be read by the Christian without con- tinents of right and wrong, and the dictates tributing to his improvement ; they will of the moral sense, has the principle of religion also be found well worth the attention of also to influence his heari: he has the unthe unbeliever. They are employed in titude to guide him ; he has that which will
erring and inflexible rules of evangelical recthe illustration of the twenty-fourth and vanquish every othet fear, the fear of God twenty-fifth chapters of Matthew. These before his eyes. He knows that he himself lectures are replete with important in. must one day stand before the judge of all; formation, and contain many striking re- and that consideration keeps him firm to his marks tending to demonstrate the divine duty, be the dangers that surround him ever authority of Jesus. We wish that his so formidable and tremendous." lordship had confined himself to what he calls the primary, and what we think were every British judge necessarily a
We are very willing to allow, that the only sense of these remarkable pro- sincere Christian, because he lives in a phecies.
country in which Christianity is proIn the twenty-first lecture we enter upon fessed, it would follow, of course, that “ the last sad scene of our Saviour's life, the strictest integrity, and the most which continues in a progressive accu- scrupulous regard to conscience, would mulation of one misery upon another, invariably mark his conduct; but as to the end of St. Matthew's gospel.” there have been persons filling some of P. 231. This, therefore, and the three the highest offices of the state, whose remaining lectures, are occupied in con- claims to the character of true Chrissidering the events by which that scene tians have been doubted, we esteem it was distinguished.
no small happiness, that our excellent Speaking of Pilate, his lordship ob- constitution looks further than his lord. serves ;
ship of London, and puts a check upon “ We see a Roman governor sent to dis
the peccability of the judge, by entrustpense justice in a Roman province, and in- ing the decision of every accused perrested with full power to save or to destroy; son's fate to those who in all cases are we see him with a prisoner before him, less liable to be influenced by the smiles in whom he repeatedly declared he could or the frowns of power. find no fault: and yet, after a few ineffec Having, in the twenty-third lecture, ad tual struggles with his own conscience, he duced much incontrovertible evidence of delivers up that prisoner, not merely to death, the resurrection of Jesus, his lordship but to the most horrible and excruciating
adds : torments that human malignity could devise. The fact is, he was afraid of the people, he “ But besides the positive proofs of this was afraid of Cæsar; and when the clamo- fact, which have been here stated, there is a rous multitude cried out to him, “ if thou presumptive one of the most forcible nature, let this man go, thou art not Cæsar's friend," to which I have never yet seen any answer, all his firmness, all his resolution, at once and am of opinion, that none can be given. forsook him. He shrunk from the dangers The proof 1 allude to, is that which is drawn that threatened him, and sacrificed his con- from the sudden and astonishing change science and his duty to the menaces of a which took place in the language and the mob, and the dread of sovereign power. conduct of the apostles, immediately after
“ Could any thing like this have happens the period when they affirmed, that Jesus ed in this country? We all know that it is had risen from the dead. From being, as impossible. We all know that no dangers, we have seen, timorous and dejected, and no threats, no fears, either of Cæsar or the discouraged at the death of their master, they people, could ever induce a British judge to suddenly became courageous, undaunted, condemn to death a man, whom he io his and intrepid: and they boldly preached that conscience believed to be innocent. And yery Jesus whom before they had deserted what is it that produces this difference be- in his greatest distress. This observation tween a Roman and a British judge? It is will apply, in some degree, to all the apostles ; this: that the former had no other principle but with regard to St. Peter, more particuto govern his conduct, but natural reason, or larly, it holds with peculiar force." what would now be called philosophy; His lordship then proceeds to recite which, though it would sometimes point out some parts of the conduct of Peter after to him the path of duty, yet could never in the ascension of our Lord: after which spire him with fortitude enoush to persevere he very forcibly asks, in it, in critical and dangerous circumstances, in opposition to the frowns of a tyrant, or « In what manner shall we account for the Clamours of a multitude. Whereas the this sudden and astonishing alteration in the